How to Install a Running Board

To make it easier to get into and out of your truck or sport utility vehicle, a set of running boards can come in very handy. These accessories provide a wide, flat area below your rocker panel that extends away from the body that you can step on, like a built-in step stool. To install running boards, you’ll need to set aside a few hours and have the right tools on hand to get the job done.

With a price tag around $300 to $1,000 depending on the style and brand you select, it can be a pricy proposition, and it’s welcome to save the cost of installation. In this article, you’ll learn the common steps for how to install running boards, the tools you need, and some suggestions of good products to check out.

Tools You’ll Need

To install running boards, you’ll need a few common tools from around the garage. They include: 

Depending on the kit you choose, it might use only pre-drilled holes in the frame or you might need to drill new holes for your fasteners. If you need to drill any holes, it’s a good idea to touch up the exposed bare metal with paint to prevent premature corrosion from forming.

Steps on Installing Running Boards

Closely follow the installation guide to ensure you properly fasten your new running boards onto your vehicle. Failing to do so could lead to damage, frustration, poor installation, and they might not bear weight appropriately. However, these steps will provide general guidance on what to expect for installation.

1. Check the Package Contents

Before installing the running boards, open the package and lay out all of the parts and fasteners. Ensure there are enough for each step required, and familiarize yourself with the steps. It’s a good idea to separate the fasteners according to the installation steps so they’re easily identifiable and accessible.

2. Position and Mark

Lay out your brackets for each side of your vehicle. They typically are bent or formed to fit an exact location, so determine which is the front, middle, and rear bracket for both sides. Look under your vehicle and mark the mounting holes for each bracket with a wax pencil along with any holes that need to be drilled.

3. Drill Holes

Follow the adage, “Measure twice, cut once.” From your mocked-up bracket or the measurements provided for the installation, accurately identify all holes that need to be drilled. Using the drill bit corresponding to your instruction manual, drill all of the necessary holes on one side.

Once the holes are drilled, use touch-up paint to coat the exposed metal and let it dry.

4. Secure the Brackets

Some running board kits require fasteners that are snaked into the frame or other hard-to-reach locations. Get these fasteners in place first, then align your brackets and install fasteners finger-tight. Double-check that you’re using the correct fasteners, and always use washers and hardware that the manual says to.

Don’t tighten them completely at this stage.

5. Fasten the Running Boards

Place your running boards onto the brackets, aligning the mounting holes on the board with the brackets underneath. Put the fasteners in finger-tight here also. Check clearances to make sure your brackets all line up and the running board is properly positioned.

6. Tighten the Hardware

Finally, tighten all of your fasteners using a ratchet and a wrench. You can also use an impact driver, taking care not to over-tighten fasteners as it can bend or warp parts. As you go, keep an eye on the alignment and make any adjustments to ensure good fitment.

7. Repeat on the Second Side

With the first side complete, repeat all of the steps on the second side.

Running Board Suggestions

There are dozens of running boards that can fit most major makes and models, and it comes down to style, price, and quality to choose one that suits you best. Here are top sellers that you should consider for your truck or SUV.

Westin Running Boards

Made of extruded aluminum and styled with polymer end caps, these Westin running boards have a slip-resistant tread area. They’re vehicle-specific, so they’re designed to bolt up easily to your vehicle with relatively little effort, and they can be fitted with an optional light kit too. What’s great about these boards is that Westin stands behind them with a five-year warranty.

LUND Trail Runner Running Boards

If you’re looking for a custom-fit aluminum running board, LUND is a great option. These Trail Runner running boards come in either a black or bright finish with your choice of diamond-plate or extruded aluminum. Available in four lengths, they install fast with no-drill installation with bracket mounting kits that use factory holes, although the brackets are sold separately.

Aries RidgeStep Running Boards

All-steel construction means these running boards are built to last in the harshest conditions on the toughest jobsites. They have a textured black powder coat finish over the 6.5-inch-wide tread, and they fasten using Aries’ VersaTrac mounting brackets (sold separately).

Need advice or recommendations? An AutoZone associate can help you with all of your running board questions.

FAQ/People Also Ask

How long does it typically take to install running boards?

It depends on the kit, your skill level, and the tools you have. Expect it to take between two and four hours to install a set of running boards.

What is the difficulty level of installing running boards?

It’s a moderately difficult job to install running boards if drilling is required. For no-drill installation, it’s an easy to moderate skill level.

Can I install running boards myself or should I hire a professional?

If you have the right tools and some mechanical skill, you can install running boards on your own, but consult a professional if you’re hesitant.

What should I do if I encounter difficulty during the installation process?

If you get into a difficult situation when installing your running boards, go back a step at a time until you can identify where the issue originated. If you can’t get it to work, have a professional complete the installation.

What should I do if the running boards don’t fit correctly on my vehicle?

First, ensure the running boards and brackets you chose are correct for your vehicle. If all of the parts are correct, call the manufacturer for installation advice or have a pro finish putting them on.

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